Cover image for The long journey of Gracia Mendes
The long journey of Gracia Mendes
Birnbaum, Marianna D.
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Publication Information:
Budapest ; New York : Central European University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
147 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Introducing the family -- A short history of the conversos -- Life in sixteenth-century Antwerp -- Gracia in Venice -- Gracia and Jewish patronage in sixteenth-century Ferrara -- In business with Ragusa -- The Ottoman Empire and the Jews.
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Table of contents

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DS135.P8 N373 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The historical biography of a true Jewish heroine in her day, Gracia Mendes. Born in 1510 in Portugal, the book details this woman's extraordinary personality until her death in 1569 in Constantinople (today's Istanbul). Her life exemplified a perseverance by the Jewish culture to survive and triumph even in the worst of conditions. As a young girl, Gracia secretly married successful Jewish spice trader, Francisco Mendes. But at age 27 she became a widow, yet she went on to raise her children and run the family business all on her own. Her travels led her through Antwerp, Venice, Ferrara, Ragusa, and finally to Constantinople, from where the Ottoman Empire dominated former Byzantium territories and offered shelter for battered Conversos (converted Jews). The text recounting the last fifteen years of Gracia's life at the center of the Empire is particularly revealing. Birnbaum's biography has the unique distinction of being the first among many studies to pay tribute to a woman during this period. It is also one of the first titles to pay equal attention to the lives of the Conversos in Christian West Europe and in the Muslim East.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Chapter 1 Introducing the Familyp. 1
Chapter 2 A Short History of the Conversosp. 5
Inquisition in Spain and Portugalp. 6
The Assimilation of Conversosp. 7
New Attitudes Toward Conversosp. 9
The Special Status of the Richp. 12
Changing Places--Changing Namesp. 13
Chapter 3 Life in Sixteenth-Century Antwerpp. 15
Converso Life in Lisbon and Antwerpp. 18
The Family Businessp. 20
Pepper and the Mendes Wealthp. 24
The Move to Antwerpp. 26
Gracia's Official Entry into the Family Businessp. 27
Diogo and the Accusation of Judaizingp. 29
The Emperor's Blackmailp. 31
The Emperor's Matchmakingp. 32
Chapter 4 Gracia in Venicep. 36
Conditions in Ferrara and Mantuap. 41
A Sisters' Quarrelp. 42
The Alleged Kidnappingp. 46
Inquisition by Proxyp. 48
Costa's Defensep. 50
Brianda Before the Inquisitionp. 52
Chapter 5 Gracia and Jewish Patronage in Sixteenth-Century Ferrarap. 54
The Ferrara Biblep. 56
Meeting an Old Friendp. 62
The Medal Controversyp. 63
The Growing Intolerance in Ferrarap. 65
Chapter 6 In Business with Ragusap. 66
Jews in Ragusap. 68
The Ragusan Dealp. 71
Chapter 7 The Ottoman Empire and the Jewsp. 75
The Legal Status of Jewsp. 76
Social Life and Customsp. 81
The Western View of Levantine Jewsp. 82
Gracia's Arrival in the Ottoman Empirep. 87
Who is a Jew?p. 89
The Mendes-Nasi Enterprisep. 90
The Crises in Ancona and Pesarop. 93
Leading the Boycott Against Anconap. 98
New Faces in Constantinoplep. 103
Gracia and the Resettling of Safedp. 106
Jewish Patronage in the Ottoman Empirep. 108
The Decline of the House of Mendes-Nasip. 110
Conclusionp. 115
Money, Prices, Valuesp. 121
From Dubrovnik to Constantinoplep. 125
Select Bibliographyp. 128
Picture Creditsp. 141
Indexp. 142
Index of Placesp. 142
Index of Personsp. 144